A country of contrasts, Germany is a mix of age-old traditions and forward-thinking ideals. It’s also a land blessed with acres of impossibly beautiful countryside dotted with chocolate-box-pretty villages, thick moody forests, romantic river valleys, vast expanses of vineyards, perfectly preserved half-timbered towns and of course not forgetting the stunning splendor of the Alps. From our many trips to this charming European country over the years, and Berlin aside here is our collective choice for 20 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Germany…
1. Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the Romantic Road – a beautiful historic city known for its half-timbered houses and cobblestone lanes
Follow the cobbled streets through the fairytale-esque gate embedded within the city walls and step back into a medieval Europe. This is one of the most beautiful towns located along the famous ‘Romantic Road’ in Bavaria, an attraction that also deserves a place on this list. The road is a picturesque 350km route through the forests and mountains of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
Rothenburg, although small, is packed with interesting sites; the Market Square flanked by 14th-century buildings, the tall Town Hall Tower which has 241 steps leading to one of the most beautiful views over the city and the interesting Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. When night falls don’t miss the amusing Night Watchman’s Tour!
Beautiful Rothenburg ob der Tauber captured on film…
2. The Black Forest – dense evergreen forests and picturesque villages and a famous beauty spot in Germany
A land of cuckoo clocks and cherry gâteaux, this place is so beautiful and magical it even inspired some of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. It covers a large area within which you’ll find the spa town of Baden-Baden (otherwise known as the “Jewel of the Black Forest”), Freiburg (a vibrant university city) and Offenburg (the capital of the wine region) as well as many other pretty quaint German villages.
However, the most attractive part of this area can be seen by driving or hiking along the Schwarzwaldhochstraße – a fantastic high road where you can journey through the rolling hills and valleys, thick forests of black fir trees and mist covered lakes. One of the most beautiful lakes in the area is Titisee, try catching the Zapfle-Bahnle train alone the scenic route around the lake or follow the lake road where you can take in the beauty of the tranquil water.
3. Neuschwanstein Castle – the fairytale castle which is one of the most famous places to visit in Germany
This stunning iconic image of Germany is, in fact, the former 19th century home of the late Ludwig II of Bavaria (otherwise known as the mad king!) The gorgeous Romanesque building is so fairy-tale esque it inspired the famous Disney castle. Although it’s often overrun with tourists this doesn’t detract from the awe-inspiring beauty of this castle both inside and out.
The most picturesque view of the magnificent structure is from Mary’s Bridge, a stop halfway up the hill towards the castle. Make sure you also pay a visit to the lovely Hohenschwangau Castle which is located nearby.
4. Lake Königssee – one of Germany’s most beautiful lakes and one of the best places to explore in the country
Located in the southeastern portion of Germany and on the border of Austria, is the stunning Lake Königssee – Germany’s deepest and cleanest lake. It’s also often hailed as Germany’s most beautiful Alpine Lake, which given the competition is quite an accolade!
Bavaria is a particularly scenic place to visit in Germany and this corner of the region has been used for outdoor recreation for centuries – both Bavarian royalty and the local rulers of Berchtesgaden and Salzburg once hunted here. In keeping with its pure and natural surroundings, only electric-powered passenger ships, rowing, and pedal boats have been permitted on the lake since 1909.
5. Regensburg – a Bavarian city on the Danube River known for its well-preserved medieval architecture
UNESCO world heritage sites are remarkably rare yet Regensburg, Germany has managed to gain the organization’s attention. In 2006 Regensburg became a UNESCO world heritage site to the delight of its 150,000 residence. Strolling through the streets of this beautiful city will bring you face to face with some of the most spectacular architecture in the world.
If you are attracted to water, you will love Regensburg as the city is perched along the Danube, Regen, and Naab rivers. This alone would have many clamoring to get to the city for a holiday, but it is the enchantment of Regensburg that brings visitors back again and again.
6. Sanssouci Castle – its stunning park and grounds are UNESCO World Heritage and a must-see sight in Germany
Located near Potsdam in East Germany, this grand summer palace sits on a large hill. Created for Fredrick the Great of Prussia, it is said to resemble the Palace of Versailles mostly because of the exquisite terraced gardens planted so they cascade beautifully down the slope of the hill.
Within the gardens are secluded temples and gazebos and the palace itself is embellished with golden Rococo detail and period 18th-century furnishings.
7. Bamberg – a picturesque town sometimes called ‘the Rome of Germany’
Located in Bavaria, close to the river Main, is the fine historic city of Bamberg. Its historic city centre is so overflowing with important architecture it has earned itself a UNESCO world heritage site status.
Explore the narrow cobbled lanes of the Old Town, the elegant 13th-century cathedral and the town hall which is located on a bridge over the river Regnitz. Wander alongside the meandering streams and then stop for a glass of the local beer in one of the many outdoor beer gardens.
8. The Rhine Valley – a stunning wide glacial Alpine valley which is one of the most stunning places to explore in Germany
The Rhine Valley is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany. The stunning River Rhine cuts through the Rhenish slate mountains, meandering between hillside castles, sloping fields of wine-producing grapes, Gothic churches, forested hillsides, craggy cliffs and idyllic villages filled with half-timber villages.
Hike through the valley trail for spectacular views of mountains, castles, mineral springs and small country inns. The area from Bingen to Koblenz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a staggering forty castles and stately homes.
9. Bremen – a picturesque city known for its striking Hanseatic buildings
Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. It sits nestled along the River Weser and the small compact city is one of the oldest in Germany, dating back 1200 years. As well as the stunning historic architecture and it’s also famous for inspiring the Grimm’s folklore story of the Musicians of Bremen.
In the older part of the city (the Schnoor-Viertel area) make sure you explore the delightful winding cobbled alleyways which are flanked by a series of charming medieval houses that come with wooden beamed facades. The surrounding countryside and farmland are also worth exploring especially along the edge of the river Wümme.
10. Sylt – a breathtaking tranquil island in the Frisian archipelago
Often forgotten by foreign travellers, the Island of Sylt (part of the German Frisian Islands) is connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm causeway. With several lovely resorts, 40km of sandy beaches, an unusual shoreline, and plenty of breathtaking nature, Sylt is well worth a visit and because it’s separated from the mainland it has remained relatively untouched.
The houses on the island are built in the delightful Fristian-style and the cliffs lining the coast are slowly eroding which has created an unusual and unique pattern. Fields of flowers, colourful lighthouses, and sparsely populated villages have made this an exclusive hidden gem and playground for the rich and famous.
11. The Harz National Park – a forested reserve to explore known for its nature, myths and legends
The Harz National Park is a lovely nature reserve located in the German federal states of Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. It’s a mountainous region shrouded in mist (or brightly lit by the sun) and filled with lakes, woodland, tales of folklore and plenty of opportunities to be at one with nature.
Popular for both walking and skiing, the park also offers botanical gardens, hiking trails and rare flora and fauna. The area is blessed with many species of butterflies and small creatures unique to this area. Make sure you pay a visit to Brocken, the highest mountain in northern Germany which is located in the park. Take a gauge train to the summit to get the most stunning view of the park below.
12. Eibsee – a crystal clear, deep blue lake in Bavaria which is a wonderful beauty spot in Germany
Eibsee, is a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Those that are looking to relax on the water enjoy visiting Eibsee Lake. Summers here give visitors the opportunity to enjoy kayaking, fishing, or swimming a the crystal clear waters the Eibsee Lake and the quaint town located at the eastern shores of the lake draw in visitors year after year.
Located in Bavaria, Germany, the lake boasts 177.4 hectares of pristine waters. If you intend on visiting Eibsee, be sure to bring along your camera, however, the pictures will not do justice to the bright blues depicted in real life.
13. Hohenschwangau – a 19th-century palace surrounded by spectacular scenery
History buffs will love Hohenschwangau castle, Germany, it was the childhood home of King Ludwig II in Bavaria, built by Kink Maximilian, Ludwig’s father. Even though the castle may draw visitors in, it is the town of Hohenschwangau, that makes the most impact.
This town features worlds of natural beauty with parks such as Poellatschlucht. Strolling through this Bavarian town brings visitors back to a simpler time before technology came about. If you want to get away from it all and enjoy natural beauty and classic architecture, Hohenschwangau is the place to visit.
14. Wurxburg Residence – one of the most important and magnificent baroque palaces to visit in Europe
Palaces the world over have drawn in visitors in search of a glimpse into how the highest of society have lived for centuries. At Wurxburg Residence, you will see it all.
The final construction of the palace was completed in 1744, but construction had been going on since 1720. The work was commissioned by Prince Bishof of Wurzburg Johann Phillip Franz Von Schonborn and Friedrich Carl Von Schonbron, his brother. The architecture depicts the classic French style with over-the-top grandeur at every turn.
15. Bavarian Forest National Park – the first and oldest National Parks to visit in Germany
Easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany, the Bavarian Forest National Park is truly one of a kind. This park maintains its natural beauty as park officials refused to repair the damage done by a severe 1983 storm. Even though today, it might seem odd for officials to make such a decision, it actually paid off for the park making it among the more rugged and naturally wild parks on earth.
Apart from being a wild dream of sorts, Bavarian Forest National Park also features some uncommon animals including the pygmy owl and three-toed woodpecker. Wildlife enclosures are found throughout the park to give the animals a sense of safety while providing humans an up-close view of the animals in their natural habitat.
16. Gorlitz – the beautiful film location for the Grand Budapest Hotel
Gorlitz has served as a wonderful backdrop for a number of films including the Grand Budapest Hotel, the Reader, the Last Command and the Inglorious Bastards. As well as being a stunning location for many a movie, few places, even in such a historic country as Germany, hold as much history as Gorlitz.
The town, although modernized, traces its roots back to 1071 where it was originally a slave settlement. Today’s Gorlitz still maintains the markings of the passed in rich historic buildings and architecture, but most visitors visit for the Neisse River. The river flows through the city providing a means of transportation, fishing avenue, and tourist attraction for the town. Gorlitz is known for being a hidden gem in Germany as it is not near most of the country’s major attractions.
Still, people flock to this part of the country for its serene setting and calm atmosphere. If you want to get away from it all and see a few familiar buildings, Gorlitz is the place to do it!
17. The Moselle Valley – picturesque wine villages, steep vineyards and traditional taverns
Germany is not always known as a country of romance, but the Moselle Valley is certainly an exception to that notion. This area has been home to a variety of cultures for over 2000 years and therefore, it has various cultural influences. The Moselle Valley houses many vineyards adding to the romantic atmosphere of the area.
Rieslings made here are known to be among the best in the world and the picturesque castles and quaint villages of the Moselle Valley keep visitors coming back again and again to this breathtaking part of Germany.
18. Lichtenstein Castle – the fairy tale castle of Württemberg which is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany
Fairytales may be merely a fantasy, but when visiting Lichtenstein Castle in southern Germany, you will begin to believe you are in one.
This castle is open to the public, but keep in mind it is a privately owned structure. The castle, built in the Gothic Revival style was crafted between 1840 and 1842. Restoration of the historic castle was completed in 2002 through non-profit organization support. If you want to live out your fairytale fantasies, Lichtenstein Castle is the place to do it.
19. Ramsau – a small but perfectly formed village to explore in the Bavarian Alps
Ramsau is certainly not the largest town in Germany, with a population of around 1,800, but it is known to be among the most beautiful for its quaint, picturesque setting. Those venturing to Ramsau are not heading to the area for a variety of attractions, but rather a chance to enjoy the great outdoors.
Apart from being completely breathtaking, the area boasts the third highest mountain in Germany, Waltzmann. Lake Hintersee and the local church in the village are famous attractions as well.
20. Quedlinburg – a northern German town known for its medieval streets lined with half-timbered houses
Sites and attractions throughout Quedlinburg are along the Romanesque Road and this area is another place known for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a population of just 24,000 the town maintains much of its small-town feel without being an overwhelming metropolis. Visitors enjoy strolling through Quedlinburg and taking in the rich history. The city was named as the first capital of Germany in 919 AD and has an illustrious history to boast about.
Of course, it’s impossible to mention all the beautiful places in Germany in a Top 20 list. Still want more? Then head for the elegant city Munich which is home to the famous annual Oktoberfest, the striking resort town of Monschau, the fine baroque university city of Heidelberg, Lübeck the city renowned for its Brick Gothic architecture and the spectacular scenery of the Rems Valley.